Poverty has always stricken people around the world. Although it is a primarily pre-conceived thought that poverty occurs only in underdeveloped countries, it is not surprising that poverty also lurks in developed countries like the United States or United Kingdom…
Although the recent figures have lowered, the Poverty.org.uk analysed that the current status of poverty is better in the 1980s. Just recently, Poverty.org.uk released the data for homelessness in the UK and declared that "110,000 households (excluding the intentionally homeless) in England were officially recognised as newly homeless by their local authorities in 2006".
As a global problem, poverty may be defined in absolute or relative terms. An absolute definition specifies a minimal level of well-being in nutrition, shelter, clothing, health, and so on and then determines what income is sufficient to maintain this level, taking into account family size and perhaps other factors, such as ages of family members and location of the family residence. This minimum level fluctuates with inflation and the general standard of living. Though always tied to the cost of material goods, this minimum income level also implies psychic consequences for those living below its standards:
Poverty should be defined psychologically in terms of those whose place in the society is such that they are internal exiles who, almost inevitably, develop attitudes of defeat and pessimism and who are therefore excluded from taking advantage of new opportunities.1
Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness in the face of overwhelming political, economic, and social forces and personal tragedies help keep such persons mired in poverty. Yet, relative definitions of poverty do not specify a particular level of material well-being, but compare the poor to other members of society. In this definition a family is poor if its resources place it well below the average standard of living. Most relative definitions define poverty as any family income below one-half the nation's median family income.
Another way of viewing poverty is of relative poverty, which goes beyond basic biological needs, and is not simply about a lack of money but also about exclusion from the customs of society. Relative poverty is about social exclusion imposed by an inadequate income as was noted in Faith in the City (Report of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on Urban Priority Areas, 1985): "poverty is not only about shortage of money, it is about rights and relationships; about how people are treated and how they regard themselves; about powerlessness, exclusion and loss of dignity" (p. 185).
Many policy analysts favour relative definitions of poverty because they focus on the inequality of income and wealth. A family is poor, many argue, if its income is insufficient to bring it close to the current median standard of living in society. This is why Peter Townsend, in his book Poverty in the United Kingdom (1979), issued a broader definition of poverty, where he stated that:
Individuals, families and groups in the population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are customaryin the societies to which they belongthey are in effect, excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs ...
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